CoSign: Samia Gets Real

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We’ve (re)rebranded our Artist of the Month series to CoSign, but it remains an accolade given to an up-and-coming artist or group who is poised for the big time. For January 2023, we’re highlighting Nashville singer-songwriter Samia and her vulnerable new album, Honey.

“I’m debilitatingly existential. Everything has to be existential, and it’s horrible,” singer-songwriter Samia laments. “I think it’s because of my middle school ex-boyfriend.” She’s smiling like she’s telling a joke, but at the same time probably isn’t joking at all.

We’re seated in GreenHouse Bar in Nashville on a gray January day — the interior of the neighborhood staple provides a stark contrast to the dreary weather, and Samia (who introduces herself as Sammy) seems right at home amidst lush greenery and rows of plants. Her sophomore album, Honey, is approaching fast, due out January 27th via Grand Jury Music. The record is eleven soul-baring tracks assembled over the past two years, and Samia’s ready for them to be heard.

“The first album was immediate and direct, and I think a lot of it was me trying to be smart and introduce myself in the way I wanted to be perceived,” she recalls. “This record, I had to be real with myself in a lot of ways I didn’t want to be. This album is more of an honest reflection of where I’m actually at.”

Honey pre-release single “Kill Her Freak Out” includes the kind of line that catches the listener off-guard with its frankness. “I hope you marry the girl from your hometown and I’ll fucking kill her,” she sings. “And I’ll fucking freak out.” It’s not said with malice, necessarily — it’s sung like it’s an inevitable truth. Vulnerability, alongside the aforementioned existentialism, are two of the strongest currents that run through the album, sweeping the listener up with its bracing honesty.

The music video for “Kill Her Freak Out” co-stars Lucas Hedges (Lady Bird, Manchester By the Sea). It was shot in the Tennessee countryside, co-directed by her friend Muriel Margaret, and the two describe the filming day as one of the worst days of their lives. A lighting trucked tipped over the in the driveway, and a truck with a full crane had to drive out to “the middle of nowhere” filming site to reset it. “She kept shooting,” Margaret emphasizes, describing Samia’s focus on set. “She was still in the moment.”

“Kill Her Freak Out” is far from the only deeply personal, highly emotional song on Honey — “Breathing Song,” for example, is a delicate diary page. “Your mom keeps threatening suicide on holidays,” she sings elsewhere on “Pink Balloon.”

“I was sharing my innermost, ugliest thoughts, and I hope that wasn’t in vain,” Samia explains. “I hope it resonates with people. My favorite thing is listening to confessional music, because it makes me feel like I’m not crazy.” (We take a moment then to collectively, breathlessly anticipate the forthcoming boygenius record).

samia interview
samia interview

Samia, photo by Sarina Kurrimbukus

Honey was recorded in the woods in North Carolina at Betty’s, the studio built by Nick Sandborn and Amelia Meath, aka electronic-pop duo Sylvan Esso. The process behind the album reunited Samia with dear friend and collaborator Raffaella (a previous CoSign), along with Caleb Wright, member of The Happy Children and one of the driving forces behind Samia’s breakthrough 2020 debut The Baby. “Caleb is a mirror and a best friend,” she says. “He makes it impossible to bullshit.”

Samia describes herself as “a deeply shy person — especially in the context of writing.” Like many artists, her harshest lens is often the one she turns on her own work. “I can be really self-critical and it takes me a long time to warm up to people when the endgame is going to be public,” she admits. For that reason, by her estimation, there are probably only four people in the world with whom she actually feels comfortable to share the exposing environment of songwriting — and when inspiration strikes, she has to get working on a song right away.

After opening for Lucy Dacus and Courtney Barnett, Samia is also eager to get back on the road. “It’s so easy to get caught up in data and numbers, but the thing that’s truly fulfilling for me is having a human-to-human mutual experience. That makes everything worth it.” she says. “[Lucy Dacus and Courtney Barnett] are such masters of their craft, but they’re so welcoming and nice to other people, and that’s the most valuable thing to me that I learned from touring with them.”

samia interview
samia interview

Samia, photo by Sarina Kurrimbukus

Honey is just over two years in the making — Samia began writing some of the songs that would make their way onto the album back in 2020. “I had more solitude in my life than ever before,” she recalls. “But I felt creatively stunted because there was nothing new happening, so I had to use that time to be really introspective, and reflect on the past with a really sober and honest perspective — I had to be open to all feelings and couldn’t waste any moment.”

While the creative cycle often has artists looking forward to the next project before a completed one has even been shared with the world, Samia is able to look back at her journey with graciousness.

“You can’t delete yourself from before,” she notes. “You need the beginning and the middle to get to where you are now.”

Catch Samia on tour by securing tickets here

CoSign: Samia Gets Real
Mary Siroky

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